Early voting kicked off on December 14 for two Georgia runoffs that will decide Senate control

As the state started early voting on December 14 for two Senate runoff elections that will decide the leadership of the US Senate, all eyes are on the state of Georgia.

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However, in some areas of the state, there were fewer early voting sites open in comparison to the November general election. This angered the state’s voting rights and advocacy organizations, who feared the reforms would lead to longer queues, longer waiting times, and more barriers, especially for voters of color.

In a pair of races that were not settled in the November elections because no one won a majority of the vote in either contest, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock are challenging incumbent GOP Sens. David Perdue, and Kelly Loeffler, respectively. The top two vote-getters advanced to the January 5 runoffs in each race. On December 31, the early voting will end.

Democrats will be able to control the Senate, if they switch both seats, as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, as Senate President, will be able to break ties in the chamber.

In Cobb County, outside Atlanta (the third-largest county in the state) only five early voting places will be open compared to 11 during the general election. During the third week of early voting, the county announced on December 9 that they would open two new sites, raising the total locations to seven.

Amidst the rainy weather, lines of early voters started emerging before the sun rose in Marietta. People covered themselves in blankets, carried umbrellas, and huddled under lawn chairs

Every candidate has been campaigning for early voting, announcing the start date at campaign trail appearances, on social media, and local and cable news interviews.

However, Republicans have been pushed to juggle between two apparently contradictory messages – the need to vote early and turn out for runoffs with the need to appeal to President Donald Trump, who spent weeks deriding the state’s voting systems ever since Georgia was called for Biden.